Regine Raab thinks your pet may need a style makeover…and her new company, Waggo, can help. The Greenpoint-based business combines Raab’s love for dogs with her affinity for fashion to create fashionable, durable and practical styles for dogs.
“I really wanted to meld the two,” said Raab, 27, of her passions for animals and design. “When you shop for pets, there are not a lot of options on the market, so I really wanted to join the two: bring the design world into the pet world.”
Before launching Waggo in late 2011, Raab, a former sales and merchandising employee for Marc Jacobs, was frustrated with the limited design range of dog products for Benny, her 8-year old Schnoodle (a Schnauser bred with a Poodle). She took matters into her own hands, found an office space in Greenpoint, and tapped into the local pet market. She considered the neighborhood a perfect location for the startup business.
“I think New York in general, compared to a lot of metropolitan areas, and Brooklyn specifically, is very pet friendly, whether it be at bars or outdoor patios at restaurants, or at the dog parks. There are so many people here with dogs, so many people who are excited to find the next great thing for their pet, so it’s a really great place to be.”
Instead of setting up a costly storefront, Raab chose to go the way of e-commerce. Waggo is a web-based company with a strong focus on social media for marketing. Staff spends their workday working on the Waggo website, updating its blog, filling orders, and working with their wholesale accounts, who account for a large portion of their business. When asked why she opted against a store, Raab explained that the internet is simply the best way for a small business to expand its reach.
“I feel like your reach on the web is just so much greater. If you have a small store in Williamsburg you’re reaching a very small area, whereas getting on the Internet you have really the whole world at your disposal. I think it’s a really great and straightforward way to start.”
Raab puts her fashion background to good use, designing all of Waggo’s products in-house. Currently, their most popular is “dipper bowls” – ceramic bowls dipped in bright colors, with a new color scheme for each season. Also on sale are chevron leashes and collars made entirely from recycled material, a big hit in the eco-friendly North Brooklyn community.
After developing Waggo from scratch, Raab is satisfied with the success they’ve had in such a relatively short period of time. She credits her small, but dedicated staff of three for sharing her vision and helping set up a company to be proud of.
“You want people around that not only know the [fashion] industry but also have a good sense of taste and can see your vision,” she said. “It’s important that they work with pets on a regular basis, but also have a creative energy. At a small company you need people around you that are creative and problem solvers, so that’s definitely important to me.”
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